Microsoft adding in-memory technology to SQL Server

Code-named Hekaton, Microsoft's in-memory technology will allow an entire database to be run from memory

In a move to speed online transaction processing (OLTP), Microsoft is adding in-memory capabilities into its SQL Server relational database management system.

The next version of SQL Server will feature the ability to host database tables or even entire databases within a server's working memory. "Any application that is throttled by the I/O of a hard disk would benefit by [having its data] moved into memory," said Doug Leland, Microsoft general manager. Currently Microsoft is testing this in-memory technology, codenamed Hekaton, with a number of customers.

By holding a database table in memory, a server can execute transactions using that table much more quickly because the database server doesn't have to immediately read data from, nor write data to, a disk. Microsoft predicts that its in-memory technology can run transaction 50 times faster than a standard SQL Server setup.

The Hekaton technology is geared for OLTP workloads, such as online banking systems, ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, and other heavily used disk-bound transactional systems, Leland said. Hekaton runs only on a single server, though it has no hard limit on how much memory it can use, so it can scale up to however much RAM can be installed on a single server.

Hekaton maintains all the ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, durability) properties required of relational databases. It writes serialized transaction logs in-memory and then periodically writes these logs to disk, Leland said. The software uses a number of compression algorithms to fit more data in memory. For instance, the content is stored in a column store, so like data types are clustered together.

To help database administrators deploy the in-memory technology, the next version of SQL Server will include a tool to easily designate databases or individual database tables that can be run in memory. No changes will be required of the applications that use these databases. Additionally, Hekaton will be able to compile store-procedures so that they run in-memory as well. "You can compile your stored procedures and run them as native machine code," Leland said.

In-memory technologies have grown more popular among enterprises that want to process data more quickly. Oracle's Exadata and SAP's HANA both address this market as well. Grafting the in-memory technology into SQL Server itself will simplify the customer's IT architecture because it eliminates the need to procure and maintain separate stand-alone in-memory technology, Leland argued.

Leland points out this is not Microsoft's first foray into in-memory technology. Both PowerPivot and Power View use in-memory technologies to allow users to quickly manipulate large swaths of data within Excel.

Microsoft announced the new technology at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Summit, being held this week in Seattle. Microsoft unveiled a few other new products at the conference as well

The company also announced that it would soon release the next version of its data warehouse appliance, SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW). Using a new data processing engine called PolyBase, this version of PDW will be able to run queries against both relational data and non-relational data managed by Apache Hadoop. Hadoop queries will be channeled through the Apache Hive data warehouse software.

The company has also released SQL Server 2012 SP1 (Service Pack 1), which, among other features, includes the ability for Excel 2013 users to work directly with SQL Server data.

Microsoft did not divulge any details about when the next version of SQL Server would be released.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags databasesapplicationsMicrosoftdata miningsoftwaredata warehousing

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

Xiro Drone Xplorer V -3 Axis Gimbal & 1080p Full HD 14MP Camera

Learn more >

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >


Learn more >

Family Friendly

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on Good Gear Guide

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?